Thursday, July 31, 2008

Book Update - The Lace Reader

I received The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry from The Book Club Girl and immensely enjoyed the book. I think I finished it in about two days. It is the perfect summer read in that it deals with family, friendship, mystery, love...the classic themes.

I have to say I loved the opening lines to the book:

"My name is Towner Whitney. No, that’s not exactly true. My real first name is Sophya. Never believe me. I lie all the time. I am a crazy woman. That last part is true."

Great, huh? Even my husband laughed and agreed that was pretty good...and he's pretty hard to impress.

Anyway, so I will try and summarize the plot which was just imaginative...dashed with a mystery, plot twists, and a bit of magic.

Towner Whitney has come back to Salem, Massachusetts after being in self-imposed exile in California for many years. She comes back due to the disappearance of her Great Aunt Eva. The Whitney women are all lace readers....meaning they not only create lace but can "read" the future for people in the pieces as well. Towner does not do this anymore. --Remember that the setting is in of the famous 1600's Witch Trials. The author notes that while there were no actual witches back during those infamous Salem has become a hub for witches.

While Salem, the witches, and the lace reading all give the story a great magical backdrop...the real story is of Towner Whitney and her family. Towner Whitney has never been the same since her twin sister Lindley committed suicide when they were 17 years old. Towner went off the deep-end after it happened and is missing much of her memory. May, Towner's mother but not her sister's mother (confusing right?), has become a recluse in her island home and has dedicated her life to helping abused women. Other characters include Towner's Aunt Emma (Lindley's mom), her brother Beezer, her old flame Jack, Salem's Detective Rafferty, and Cal (estranged and abusive father of Lindley).

I was quite confused at the beginning (and for a while after) about Towner's family tree. Who was who's mother, sister, aunt, all got convoluted. But that's the point...keep reading. What I loved was the author's depiction of Salem and the almost normality of the magical-ness of it all. And I loved going along with Towner's memories while her damaged mind tries to figure everything out. It was a great and unusual perspective.

You might out-guess the twists and turns in the book...but that is ok. The book is about waiting for the characters to figure it all out.

Check out the author's website here and you can enter a contest to try and win a trip to Salem.

Since I like book covers, here's an alternate cover...I like my version's cover better though:

For those of you who've read the book: do you remember anyone actually reading lace during the story? Hmmm...

Also reviewed by (if I've missed yours let me know!):
In the Shadow of Mt TBR
Ticket to Anywhere
So Many Book, So Little Time...
Devourer of Books
A Girl Walks Into A Bookstore
Booking Mama
Adventures in Reading
Fizzy Thoughts
A Bookish Way of Life

Can I Read That?

I was sitting on the subway on my way to work this morning, listening to my iPod and reading as usual. I like to balance my iPod, purse, book, mug-o-coffee, and sometimes other odds and ends all on my lap. It's a talent I'm perfecting. Anyway...a nice lady sat down next to me, balancing her backpack on her lap and started writing in her journal.

After a while I noticed that she had stopped writing and was reading my book along with me. I actually don't mind people reading "over my shoulder" so to speak. After about five pages and getting close to my stop to get off, I took off my earphones and let her see the cover. She was all smiles, wrote down the title in her journal, said, "Thank you, I'll have to read that book". That kind of made my day.

In case you're curious, the book was The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and I had just started reading it this morning.

Question: Where do you get ideas of books you want to read?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


So I recently got a request from a lovely blogger named Bree at The Things We Read to post more photos, etc. from when I lived in Alaska. And I guess more of NYC. I've definitely enjoyed and am enjoying living in both these places.

So I was busy scanning some photos from back in the day when I waded in the Arctic Ocean...and then it happened. My computer got drunk. Ok. That's sort of a lie. Amanda being the lovely klutz that she is decided to pour a whole glass of wine over her computer. The computer still has a hang-over. So hopefully soon the computer will recover from this head-ache...possibly with a little help from AA (or Best Buy) and will be back on its feet in no time.

Until then, please enjoy this photo of me and The Bear (a.k.a. Anna Bear) in Chugach State Park near Anchorage, Alaska.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Book Update - The Last Summer (of You and Me)

A little while ago I won a contest held by The Book Club Girl. Her blog is a great resource for all things book. I won a copy of the book The Last Summer (of You and Me) by Ann Brashares. It's the perfect summer "beach" read and it even came with a beach towel :)

I've been quite tired in the mornings for some reason so I've been needing a light read to keep me awake on my subway commute to work. So I picked up this book. I would have never have read this book if I hadn't won it but I am so glad I did. What a perfect touching summer read.

The plot is simple and sweet but what really draws you into the story is the writing. I really like how Ann Brashares describes people and the setting. The story is set on Fire Island near New York City. Fire Island is a long thin strip piece of land off Long Island. Every summer since they can remember, sisters Riley and Alice have spent their summers on Fire Island with their next door neighbor Paul. Riley and Paul are the same age and are best friends. Alice is three years younger and has always tagged behind Riley and Paul.

Now the three friends are in their early twenties, back on the island for summer and in that perfect "in-between" stage of growing up. Of course this is a story about families, about sisters, of tragedy, and about first love. While not too original themes, the way the authors depict the characters, the emotion, and the setting is what makes this book. I also have to admit that I liked this book too because I liked the sisters. Since I have an older sister I totally related to the relationship between Riley and Alice. Riley reminded me of my sister and of course I identified with the younger sister Alice.

The author Ann Brashares is the author of the popular teen series, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, which was also made into a movie. This is Ann Brashares first adult book. While it's not a huge literary piece of work, it is the perfect light summer book.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Completed - 1% Well-Read Challenge

I finally finished the 1% Well-Read Challenge.

The challenge was to read 10 books on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list in 10 months. I completed the challenge in just a little over two months. Yay!

You can check out my list of the books I chose to read below and they are linked to my reviews of the books.

Amanda's 1% Well-Read List

1. The Blind Assassin - Margaret Atwood (Finished May 20, 2008)

2. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy (Finished May 22, 2008)

3. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood (Finished May 30, 2008)

4. The Light of Day - Graham Swift (Finished June 01, 2008)

5. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins (Finished June 10, 2008)

6. The Colour - Rose Tremain (Finished June 20, 2008)

7. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks (Finished July 09, 2008)

8. Sexing the Cherry - Jeanette Winterson (Finished July 12, 2008)

9. Their Eyes Were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston (Finished July 15, 2008)

10. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte (Finished July 24, 2008)


11. Summer - Edith Wharton (Finished July 31, 2008)

12. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon (Finished August 5, 2008)

13. The English Patient - Michael Ondaatje (Finished August 21, 2008)

14. Like Water for Chocolate - Laura Esquivel (Finished September 14, 2008)

15. Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen (Finished September 19, 2008)

16. The Turn of the Screw - Henry James (Finished October 06, 2008)

17. The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde (Finished October 21, 2008)

18. Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut (Finished February 06, 2009)

19. Breakfast at Tiffany's - Truman Capote (Finished March 04, 2009)

20. Rabbit, Run - John Updike (Finished March 12, 2009)

21. If on a winter's night a traveler - Italo Calvino (Finished March 25, 2009)

22. 1984 - George Orwell (Finished April 15, 2009)

23. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad (Finished June 07, 2009)

24. The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (Finished October 11, 2009)

25. The Mystery of Edwin Drood - Charles Dickens (Finished October 20, 2009)

26. Wide Sargasso Sea - Jean Rhys (Finished October 23, 2009)

27. The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway (Finished October 30, 2009)

28. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens (Finished December 4, 2009)

29. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll (Finished December 10, 2009)

30. Through the Looking Glass - Lewis Carroll (Finished December 22, 2009)

31. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Path (Finished December 23, 2009)

32. Persuasion - Jane Austen (Finished December 28, 2009)

33. Eugénie Grandet – Honoré de Balzac (Finished December 31, 2009)

34. The Thirty-Nine Steps - John Buchan (Finished January 6, 2010)

34. Mrs. Dalloway - Virginia Woolf (Finished February 08, 2010)

35. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte (re-read) (Finshed February 17, 2010)

1001 Book Update - Jane Eyre

I finally got around to reading Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. While I am a fan of Jane Austin, I never really delved into any Bronte books. As you probably know, the Bronte sisters: Charlotte, Emily, and Anne. Each was talented at writing and produced a few classic books. I read Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte in high school and really didn't like it. I think I will have to go back and re-read it though. After reading Jane Eyre and having LOVED it, I am going to check out more Bronte books.

Jane Eyre is the story of an un-loved, plain, poor, and parent-less girl. The book does a great job describing her painful growing up years. After her parents die, Jane is left in the hands of a loveless aunt who sends Jane off to school at the age of ten. Jane become a talented educated young lady, but unfortunately never a beauty. After eight or so years at school, Jane manages to get herself a position as a governess.

I always assumed that the novel ends there...she meets someone, falls in love...yadayada. But no! This is not your typical romance story. Jane is plain but good. Her hero Mr. Rochester is not handsome and a bit gruff. And the servants are hiding a huge secret that could drive Jane and Mr. Rochester apart.

I apparently thought I had read this book because a while back I had seen a 1996 movie version and, honestly, it didn't impress me too much. Jane was a little too mousy for me. I don't think I even watched the whole movie because the second half of this book totally caught me off guard. I can see now after reading the book how hard it would be to portray Jane and Mr. Rochester in just the right way.

The book was much much better. I totally felt for Jane and thought she was an amazing character. She eventually gains happiness but she only does it on her terms. Again and again she was tested and could have chosen the easy path, but she didn't. While Mr. Rochester isn't my favorite male the end of the story I really liked his character.

There is a newer version of Jane Eyre which was recently aired on PBS which is supposed to be pretty darn good. I also have to say I want to watch it because the character of Mr. Rochester is played by Toby Stephens who does an amazing job as Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby.

Just a question: For those of you who have read Jane Eyre or watched the any of the movie versions, what are your opinions? Do you like the book better? Did the movie turn you on or off the story of Jane?

P.S. I read Jane Eyre on Google Books. A great resource for reading books online that are past the copyrighted protection. Make sure you search the "Full-view" only for the book in its entirety.

This is the 1996 movie:

This is the newer version which aired on PBS this year:

Also reviewed by:
A Girl Walks into a Bookstore
Age 30+ A Lifetime of Books
A Bookshelf Monstrosity
A Book Blog. Period.
Things Mean a Lot
Bookworms and Tea Lovers
Ticket to Anywhere
Book Nut
Books Love Me
Becky's Book Reviews
At Home With Books
Nothing of Importance
Jazzster Reviews

Friday, July 25, 2008

Books by the Season

I finished up reading Charlotte Bronte's classic novel Jane Eyre. You may know Charlotte by her sister, Emily Bronte who wrote Wuthering Heights.

I was sitting at home talking to my husband and pondering upon my next "classic" book to read. I mentioned that I was thinking of reading a Charles Dickens book since I've never read his work before. "NO!" my husband stated. I looked at him stunned. "Why not?" I asked. "You CAN'T read Dickens in the summer." This seemed logical.

So I am reading Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte, sister of said Charlotte and Emily.

So do you read books according to the season? If you do...what books/authors can you only read in certain seasons? And why?

UPDATE: I decided that Agnes Grey felt a little to, well, grey for me for a sunny summer day. So I took some fellow book lovers advice and have switched to reading Summer by Edith Wharton. Now this seems like a book I have to read during the summer :)

Thanks to Chris and Lisa!! And thanks to Heather, Steinbeck will probably be next on my list.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Van Gogh + Movie Star

So I LOVE Vincent Van Gogh. His paintings, his sketches, his writing.

I also am going to see the Dark Knight movie this weekend and am pretty excited.

So what does Van Gogh and Christian Bale have in common? Go to the Van Gogh's Chair blog to find out.

Friend's Giveaway

My friend is giving away some books over at her blog Click. The Good News. If you haven't read her reviews, check them out. Stick around and check out her blog about life, travels, family, and her dog Zoe.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Where I Learned To Read

Have you always loved reading or is it something fairly new to you? Or do you even like to read?

My parents were great at always keeping a plethora of books around and reading to us.

Here's a photo of me at seven months old which just cracks me up. Guess which one I am:
Here I am at three and a half probably pretending to read:
I loved my parent's bed frame growing up. What read-a-holic wouldn't love to wake up surrounded by books:

Where Do You Read?

So where do YOU read? Do you read when you travel? Have a comfy couch you curl up on? Do you fall asleep reading or read before bed?

On a ferry boat to Vancouver Island:

Waiting for dinner at Tough City Sushi in Tofino, Canada:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Right now the "Booking" world is all in a titter over the author Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight series and now The Host. Have you read any of the books? Thoughts?

Blogger Dar at Peeking Between the Pages is giving away a copy of The Host here and you can read her review here .

Blogger Lori at Lori's Reading Corner is also giving away a copy here.

I'm still amazed that there are so many book bloggers who are willing to take the time and effort of having contests and giving away some great books. Thanks!

Monday, July 21, 2008

In a New York Minute

You know how that last half an hour of work just drags sometimes? Well I decided to be productive and post some classic "New York" moments of me and my husband. The credit for all these photos goes to my brother who visited us last December.

This first one is us on the Brooklyn Promenade just after dusk. While we were living in Las Vegas, my husband (then boyfriend) took me on a surprise vacation to New York City and proposed to me on that promenade. What a great memory:
Here's us being silly on the subway. I honestly don't know what we were talking about at the time:This is near where my husband works and I think I was waiting for him to get out of a bar with some of his work friends. My brother took this picture of me which I LOVE with the Empire State Building in the background.
Here's a bar with a deck which has an awesome view of the Empire State Building. It was pretty cold outside in December but they had those nice heat lamps:
This is me chatting on the phone somewhere near where I work.
And home messing with my dog Charlie. Since then we've re-arranged our apartment a bit to give us more space. Yay! Plan was a success! Only five more minutes at work :) I hope you enjoyed my New York moments!

Tagged Again

I was recently tagged by Amanda at Click the Good News. I love reading her blog about her hometown of Houston, her adorable Vizsla Zoe, and her adventures through life. So here it goes:

Ten years ago I was:

Living in Fairbanks, Alaska and spending the summer before my senior year in high school.

What are (non-work) things on my to-do list for today?

1. Change the sheets on my bed
2. Plan for our honeymoon trip
3. Get groceries
4. Make chicken enchiladas for dinner
5. Go to bed early

Five snacks I enjoy:

1. Dried papaya and dried pineapple
2. Craisens
3. Trail mix
4. Pretzels
5. Dark Chocolate
6. Veggie chips with hummus

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

1. Travel everywhere & anywhere (I agreed with Amanda on this one)
2. Take classes for fun
3. Spend time volunteering
4. Get a house
5. Do some wonderful things for my friends and family who deserve it (Again I agreed with Amanda)

Places I’ve lived:

1. Colorado (Leadville, Arvada, Greeley, Ft Collins)
2. Nevada (Winnemucca and Las Vegas)
3. Alaska (Fairbanks and Anchorage)
4. New York City
5. Tennessee
6. Utah

Jobs I’ve had:

1. Barista
2. Receptionist
3. Administrative Assistant
4. Customer Service Rep

I will be tagging:

1. Heather at Age 30 - A Year of Books
2. Katie Sue at Confessions of a Real Librarian
3. Kate at What Kate's Reading
4. Nymeth at Things Mean a Lot

Sunday, July 20, 2008

14 Book Giveaway

Bookroom Reviews blog is giving away Fourteen Books from Hachette Book Group. Go to the site, comment on the blog, and see if you can win!

Friday, July 18, 2008

1001 Books Update - Their Eyes Were Watching God

My friend at work tends to sometime give me books after she's read them. Examples of her generosity are My Dream of You and Mistress of the Revolution. So the other day she finished up Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston.

This is one of those books that I've been meaning to read (I have to admit) because I really like the title. I also love the cover of this edition. And I haven't read many books by Harlem Renaissance authors. So I thought I'd give it a try.

The book was written by Zora Neale Hurston in 1937. The story is about Janie Crawford who is living in a time period after slavery ended but during the Jim Crow era. Basically raised by her grandmother, she is married off at an early age to escape the fate of her grandmother and mother who both had children out of wed-lock. To make this even harder, Janie Crawford is a real beauty with gorgeous hair.

The story is basically a journey through Janie's life where she looks for love and finds herself. She has a few failed marriages and her travels take her from Georgia to Florida...from a prosperous stint as a weathly man's wife to picking crops in Flordia. It took me a while to get engrossed into the book. About halfway I started rooting for Janie to find herself and have the freedom to be herself and find love.

I have to admit I was pretty surprised that in the end I really enjoyed the book. The first half was a bit of a struggle and I wasn't sure if I was going to like it. I know that if I had tried to read this in high school I probably would have been really annoyed. The story is written in venacular so it takes a while to get used to. And I just wasn't attached to Janie's story at first. But stick with it and it's a wonderful story.

Oh...and I just noticed that there's a movie with Hallie Berry. I haven't watched it but...well, it's out there :)

Also Reviewed By:
Lost in a Good Story

Thursday, July 17, 2008

1001 Book Update - Sexing the Cherry

While my husband and I were in Virginia a few months ago on a mini road trip/vacation, I popped into a used book store in Williamsburg. I got three books and for some reason all three had red on the cover. Weird. This was one that I picked up. I've heard of Jeanette Winterson and obviously the book has an interesting title. Sexing the Cherry (first published in 1989) had to be one of the most interesting and odd books I've read in a while. This is going to be a tough review. I've given up on my synopsis and am going with the Library Journal's one:

Bizarre images and bawdy laughter galvanize this splendid English farce about a prodigious giantess and her explorer son in 17th-century London. Jordan fetches the first pineapple to the court of Charles II, while his mother, The Dog Woman, wreaks vengeance upon Puritans in a brothel. The plague; the flying princesses who defy laws of the courts and gravity; Jordan's travels to the floating city and the botanical wonders of the New World--the tale nips easily in and out of history and fantasy. The two characters eventually merge into the grievously polluted life of modern London. Metaphors abound with polemics on environmental concerns and politics of past and present. Not for the Jackie Collins set: readers need a background in surrealism to follow this story.

Hmmm...interesting, right? So imagine this book as a weird fairy tale. But not our classic "happily ever after" ones. Imagine the dark ones, the Grimm ones, the ones where the sisters cut off their toes to fit their large feet into Cinderella's glass slipper. Yeah, those ones.

The story starts out during Charles II's reign (think the plague, regicide, etc). Enter a larger than life woman named Dog Woman (she breeds and keeps a pack of at least fifty dogs for sale and fighting). On her website, Winterson describes Dog Woman as the "only woman in English fiction confident enough to use filth as a fashion accessory". She finds a baby floating in the Thames (think Moses) and names him Jordan. He grows up craving travel, adventure, and searches for love. The narration switches between Dog Woman and Jordan.

I think I'll leave the review there. I'm torn on how I like it. Half the time I was thinking "Wow! I need to highlight that section." Other times I was totally disgusted or lost. But at only 192 pages it's a very short read and I will have to revisit and re-read it again.

And for some reason I am just fascinated by book covers. The cover above is the one on the edition I read. But here are various other covers...interesting:

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


One thing that has totally taken me by surprise is the humidity in this city. Yeah yeah yeah...I know there are tons and tons of places that are super humid but I've never lived in them. I've lived in a lot of dry and arid places in the West so this is a little weird to me.

That said...for all of you living in hot/humid areas...what type of bedding do you use in the summer? We have a super comfy down comforter we use in the winter but it is way way too hot for the summer.

So right now we just use sheets which is really not attractive.

Then I saw this contest for a quilt...very cool!! It's at the Old Red Barn Co.
Or you can click the link on the right...pretty huh?
Or you can head on over to the Back Porch Quilters and let them make your own custom made quilt. Pretty cool.

Whenever I get it all figured out I'll post a picture of our bedroom....until then...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Finished a Challenge!

Yay! So I finished my first reading challenge...the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.

1) The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins (Finished June 10, 2008)

2) The Madonnas of Leningrad - Debra Dean (Finished June 20, 2008)

3) The Colour - Rose Tremain (Finished June 21, 2008)

4) The Birth of Venus - Sarah Dunant (Finished June 29, 2008)

5) The Blood of Flowers - Anita Amirrezvani (Finished July 11, 2008)

6) Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks (Finished July 09, 2008)

If you are curious to check out other people's reviews of their books in this challenge, check out the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge Blog

Book Update - The Blood of Flowers

The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani is the last book I chose to read for my Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

I chose this book because the setting was not the typical European setting that many historical fiction falls into. Instead, The Blood of Flowers takes place in 17th Century Persia (Iran).

The main heroine is a 14-year old girl in a small village. She is the only child of two loving parents. Her passion is rug making. But her world is soon shattered by the untimely death of her father. She travels with her mother to the large city of Isfahan to seek shelter and security with relatives. However, the relatives treat the pair more as servants than as family members.

The book is about the coming of age story of the 14-year old narrator who, while growing up, is forced to go through trials and tribulations to become a woman and be in charge of her own destiny.

I thought this book was such an interesting read. I loved the description of rug making, especially the afterward which explained how the author did research into the 17th Century period and trade of rug making. I was also fascinated by the Iranian custom of sigheh which is basically a form of a temporary marriage which under contract can last anywhere from an hour, a few months, or many years. A bit of this book reminded me of Sarah Dunant's The Birth of Venus which was about a girl with a passion for art who also goes through trials in a coming of age story.

Check out the author's website on the book and photos of Isfahan which along with her descriptions in the book make me really really want to visit that city.

Also Reviewed by:

 The Book Nest
Reading Adventures
Age 30 - A Year of Books
Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'?

Sunday, July 13, 2008


The weird thing about blogs is you never know who is reading your posts. On that note, I've been tagged by Amber at Letters to the World

1. Link the person(s) who tagged you
2. Mention the rules on your blog
3. Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours
4. Tag 6 fellow bloggers by linking them
5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger’s blogs letting them know they’ve been tagged

Unspectacular quirks, endstop.

1) Making up songs. I love making up ridiculous songs and singing them around the house. Did I mention that I don't sing well and am horrible at rhyming.

2)Playing with food. If I can eat my food in an odd or methodical way I will do it. Which is why I love chopsticks and's fun with food. And I can't eat a hand full of trail mix. Each piece is eaten individually and separated.

3)Wherever I go in the house I always have a little entourage that follows: chap stick, hair tie, and random countless other miscellaneous stuff. My sister thinks it's hilarious.

4)Notes and lists. I always have tons of notes and lists floating around everywhere. I makes lists for everything.

5)Tree photos. It's an obsession.

6)Shoe and pant issues. I hate when my pants ride up behind the back of my shoes when I'm walking. Drives me nuts.

I'm tagging:

Katherine at A Girl Walks into a Bookstore
Becky at Becky's Book Reviews
Nicole at Book Escape
Stephanie at The Written Word
Trish at Trish's Reading Nook
Stephanie at Confessions of a Book-a-holic

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Fun Contests = Many Books

Two contests are going on with each giving away 14 Books from Hachette Books. Enter and maybe you'll win a ton of books!

Bookshipper's Blog

Trish at Hey Lady! Whatcha Reading?

1001 Book Update - Birdsong: A Novel of Love and War

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks is another book I picked up for seventy-five cents at the Mid-Manhattan Library Book Sale. It's one of those books that has been on my list to read for years and years. The first Sebastian Faulks book I read was Charlotte Gray, a story about the French Resistance during World War II, which I definitely recommend. Charlotte Gray was also made into a movie with Cate Blanchett.

The reason I found Birdsong to be intriguing is because it was set during World War I, a period that many people in the United States don't know much about. I guess it's because the U.S. entered the War relatively late and didn't lose as many men compared to the rest. It's such an interesting period of time however, and this book helped me understand why to many in Europe, World War I is still referred to as The Great War.

I didn't realize until I was writing this review, that Birdsong is "A Novel of Love and War" because my copy of the book doesn't have that extra title. Interesting...but that's just what the book is about.

The story starts off with 20 year-old Englishman Stephen Wraysford who comes to France to learn French textile procedures. He is the house guest of M. Azaire, his new young wife, and his two children. While there he become enamored with the wife, Isabelle and they have an affair. Isabelle decides to tell her husband about the affair and start a new life with . Later on she has second guesses and while Stephen is at work, Isabelle leaves him as well. Fast forward a few years and Stephen is in an officer fighting in France during World War I. He has become just a shell of what he once was. Without Isabelle or any other close family, Stephen struggles with humanity and faith.

The book didn't really grip my attention until after Isabelle left Stephen. Fortunately the majority of the book takes place during Stephen's time fighting and surviving the war. I think a person would have to have a pretty hard heart and a strong stomach to not be affected by Faulks description of the events of World War I. Expect a lot of mud, blood, and trench warfare. I completely understand the term "Lost Generation" now that I've read this book. A large majority of that generation in Europe never survived the war and if they did, were never really the same again.

The only part of the book I wasn't too thrilled with was after reading almost half of the book who's chapters go: 1910, 1978???? The story flashes forward to Stephen's grandaughter who's going through her own relationship problems and her search for information on her deceased grandfather. While there was some interesting aspects of her story, I felt like it just didn't belong to the book I was reading.

Overall Birdsong is an amazing story and I would recommend it along with Charlotte Gray.

An alternate cover to Birdsong: A Novel of Love and War:

P.S. If you've read the book, do you know why it's called "Birdsong"? If you do, let me know!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Jaunt in Battery Park City

The other day my husband and I decided to take a walk and see some New York City sites. We headed over to Battery Park City which is located in Downtown on the Western tip of the Island. Yes, Battery Park City is a neighborhood in New York City. has a beautiful promenade:
And has a great view of the Statue of Liberty:
Its even got its own little harbor:
We also got to see the Irish Hunger Memorial which is nearby. The memorial is a big landscape of flowers, grass, stones, etc. which replicate the homeland of the Irish immigrants to the United States.
The view of New Jersey from the Irish Hunger Memorial:
Here's a beautiful pond in front of the Memorial:
I love seeing all the flowers and greenery in the city. If you think New York City is all buildings and brownstone, think again:
And I love the cool light poles. Just had to snap a photo:
After our jaunt in Battery Park City, we headed for some beers and appetizers at one of our favorite places, Walkers. If you are in the city, order a beer from Brooklyn Brewery...yum!

Here's just a random street shot:

And I had to snap this because it just made me laugh:

Hope you enjoyed this tour!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Charlie Dog

I'm posting this for a know who you are...

Happy Birthday Little One

Today is my nephew's fourth birthday. I can't believe he's that old! I remember watching him when he was just a few months old. Here's us going on a pretend trek indoors:

He's gotten so athletic....he's got quite the arm:
And he's so lucky he's got so many cool toys...I'm sort of jealous

It's sad because he lives in Alaska so we don't get to see each other very often. And the last time I hung out with him a lot, he was sooo tiny! But at least I can say "hi" to him on the phone every now and then :)